Antiseptics actually killed more soldiers than infection

Sir Alexander Fleming FRSE, FRS, FRCS(Eng).

The best-known achievement of Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 –1955) is the discovery of the antibiotic substance Penicillin in 1928. Alexander Fleming served throughout World War I as a captain in the Army Medical Corps and was Mentioned in Dispatches (a military award for gallantry or commendable service). He worked in battlefield hospitals at the Western Front in France.

Following World War I, Fleming actively searched for anti-bacterial agents, having witnessed the death of many soldiers from Sepsis (a potentially fatal whole-body inflammation caused by severe infection) resulting from infected wounds.

Antiseptics killed the patients' immunological defenses more effectively than they killed the invading Bacteria. In an article he submitted for the medical journal The Lancet during World War I, Fleming described an ingenious experiment, in which he explained why antiseptics were killing more soldiers than infection itself during World War I.

Army surgeons carry out an operation during the Second World War.

Antiseptics worked well on the surface, but deep wounds tended to shelter anaerobic bacteria from the antiseptic agent, and antiseptics seemed to remove beneficial agents produced that protected the patients in these cases at least as well as they removed bacteria, and did nothing to remove the bacteria that were out of reach. But despite this, most army physicians over the course of the war continued to use antiseptics even in cases where this worsened the condition of the patients.

Later, Alexander Fleming discovered world's first antibiotic, or bacteria killer, Penicillin.

"When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn't plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world's first antibiotic, or bacteria killer," Fleming would later say, "But I suppose that was exactly what I did."

Fleming was investigating the properties of Staphylococcus Bacteria. On 3 September 1928, Fleming returned to his laboratory having spent August on holiday with his family. Before leaving, he had stacked all his cultures of Bacteria on a bench in a corner of his laboratory. On returning, Fleming noticed that one culture was contaminated with a fungus, and that the colonies of Bacteria that had immediately surrounded it had been destroyed, whereas other colonies farther away were normal. Fleming grew the mould in a pure culture and found that it produced a substance that killed a number of disease-causing bacteria. He identified the substance as Penicillin.

View Count: 5436.

Hosted by: datatorch